CHICAGO (CBS) — Wednesday was a very important morning for more than 100 people celebrating their first hours as U.S. citizens.
In a 45-minute naturalization ceremony in the Loop, 119 immigrants from 38 nations swore their allegiance to the United States, becoming Chicago’s newest American citizens.
After the ceremony, the new citizens received their certificates of naturalization, which will allow them to register to vote and apply for U.S. passports. That cleared the way for many of those immigrants to plan long-delayed trips home.
One member of the group had lived in the U.S. for 40 years before finally becoming a citizen.
The keynote speaker at the ceremony was U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, whose mother emigrated from Lithuania.
“They’ve gone through quite a journey to get here, not just physically; but also we require testing to make sure that they understand this country, and its background, and its history. Many of us who are born in America would be struggling to pass this very same test,” he said.
As part of the Oath of Allegiance, the immigrants swear to bear arms on behalf of the United States if asked to do so. They also swear to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.